Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Commemorating the Battle of Tewkesbury

Today is the anniversary of the Bsttle of Tewkesbury on May 4 1471. Last year to mark the 550th anniversary I reposted a series of informative and cogent online articles produced by the excellent Tewkesbury Battlefield Society to commemorate the events of 1471. These can be found in the May 2021 section of my back posts. 

Last year the continuing covid restrictions meant that the annual battle re-enactment and Medieval Festival which has developed from and alongside it had to be cancelled for a second year, but this year the event is back. 

Men in armour poke their polearms at each other, while arrows fly overhead.

The battle of Tewkesbury re-enacted

Image: Wikipedia 

I have been several times to watch the combat, wander around the accompanying medieval fair with its various stalls selling books and prints, reproduction armour and lifestyle resources for re-enactors ( my favourite was a very good armour stand entitled “Dressed to Kill”…) and other related events in the town, such as the storming of the abbey church in pursuit of the defeated seeking refuge there - an addition since I last attended - and the subsequent beheadings outside the Magistrates Court near the abbey.

Tewkesbury is decorated for the occasion with over 180 reproductions of the heraldic banners of the combatants. Not only is Tewkesbury a delightful and beautiful town with many timber frame buildings built over several centuries but it is still dominated, as it was in 1471, by the marvellous abbey, which is the burial place of, inter alia, several of the prominent victims of the battle, including Prince Edward, son and heir to King Henry VI. If you are interested at all in the period and are free to go there on the weekend of July 9 and 10 a visit is something I thoroughly recommend.

The handsomely illustrated website for this year is at Tewkesbury Medieval Festival and there is an account from Wikipedia of the evolution since 1984 of a small re-enactment into what is now said to be the largest medieval festival in Europe at Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

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